SurePure gets stamp of approval from SA Vineyards

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011
Following Government's legalisation of the use of ultra violet light energy for liquid purification in oenological practice last year, acceptance of SurePure's photopurification technology is gaining momentum, with many local winemakers having used SurePure's system, which results in less harmful chemical intervention decreasing the need to add sulphur and other disinfectant additives.
This is according to Steve Miller, Marketing Executive of SurePure, who explains how the approved SurePure photopurification method, which uses light energy to disinfect wine, differs from the traditional wine filtration methods.

“It replaces, or can act as an adjunct to many other common processes,” says Miller. “It can replace sterile filtration, which strips colour and flavour from wine and can add significantly to wine loss. Photopurification also allows for less chemical intervention, either with sulphur, or other substances such as dimethyldicarbonate (DMDC) or pimaricin, the latter which has now to all intents and purposes been banned in the South African wine industry. This has a positive impact on the environment and on consumers’ well-being.”

Miller points out that focusing on reducing sulphur content also serves to ensure a more sustainable and less environmentally invasive approach to wine-making.

Growing Acceptance from Local Vineyards

With the legal impediment disappearing, many top vineyards are now on board and utilizing the technology for a variety of different applications in the cellar.

Johan Jordaan, Winemaker at Spier Wines, has used the Surepure technology in 2009 and 2010 vintages. “Initially I had used the technology to treat wines that suffered from stuck fermentations prior to restarting them,” he says. “This wine was passed through the SurePure unit, once and without being filtered. The VA of this wine was stable and after the successful re-ferment, the wine had no sluggish or stuck ferment odours. I have also used it to stop the fermentation of a Rose to have a higher residual sugar.”

Jordaan believes that there is a place for the SurePure technology in the market and that you can produce outstanding wines with low sulphur, provided that you follow the fundamental rules of chemistry to preserve your wines.

“I would think that low sulphur whites should be drunk very young or sealed with screw cap to preserve the freshness, whereas the reds can be stretched, provided that you have ample extract in the form of tannin to help preserve the wine against oxidation,” Jordaan says. “To prove this, I bottled a Merlot wine from the 2009 vintage, the first wine I treated, and closed it with a screw cap, as a sample. Nothing was added, no sulphur, no acid, no tannin. This was post ferment, pre MLF. The sample stood in my office for 2 years. I opened the wine prior to the 2011 harvest, to taste it. Lo and behold, the wine was fresh and clean, no oxidation, no off flavours and no browning of colour.”

He says that this was a true revelation. “I certainly did not expect this. I expected oxidation, at least. This proves the point of low, or even no sulphur. The fact that the wine passed through the SurePure unit only once makes it even more interesting. I did not do chemical or micro analyses on the wine, but organoleptically, it was fine, even after two years on a desk in an office.”

Steenberg Vineyards Winemaker JD Pretorius says that the SurePure treatment provides a great added benefit to winemakers. “It allows you to use less sulphur and gives you more peace of mind,” he explains. “Added to traditional winemaking methods, it can be of great added value. We treated a batch of Merlot in 2009. No sulphur was added to the grapes or to the wine, and the wine showed more colour and more pronounced fruit in its youth. The wine showed that different flavour compounds, with lots of fresh fruit flavours, could be a good blending component. After 12 months ageing in barrels the wine showed slightly more oxidation characters than the ones with sulphur added, but still with good freshness.”

Owner/winemaker of Bouchard Finlayson, Peter Finlayson, says he is very happy to endorse the benefit of the Surepure treatment. “Perhaps it is worth stating that any non invasive treatment of wine must be seen as a big plus, which means that there is no reason why we should not pursue utilising SurePure’s method of wine stabilization. The success of our 2007 Auction Reserve Pinot Noir speaks for itself.”

This was the wine that received the highest price on the highly rated Winemakers Guild Auction in 2009.

His positive sentiments about the application of the technology to premium wines is echoed by Bartho Eksteen, Cellarmaster at Hermanuspietersfontain, and the 2010 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, who is equally supportive of the technology. “I was happy with the results and will use the system again.”

Jeff Grier, Cellarmaster at Villiera Wines, says: “We used the Surepure process on a SO² free base wine for Cap Classique. We have not commenced selling the 2009 product (Brut Natural) yet, which prevents us from commenting on the final quality. However, the job was handled very efficiently with excellent attention to detail and we are confident that the process will contribute to the stability of the product.”

Grier adds that Villiera is exploring other opportunities this year and intends utilising Surepure for additional microbiological security.

The SurePure system has found its place in larger commercial operations, too.

Sterik De Wet CEO Ashton Kelder says: “Surepure was used to treat single strength grape juice and grape juice concentrate at 68 Brix. Results on single strength juice were great and we were able to preserve the juice with no additional treatment prior to concentration. On grape juice concentrate (68 Brix), the results are promising and from what I have seen, I believe we will be able to be 100% successful.”

SurePure’s Miller sees an increasing number of vineyards adopting the technology in the near future. “A growing consumer preference for fresher wines, combined with winemakers’ focus on a less invasive approach to wine-making, and increasingly draconian additive legislation makes SurePure a sure bet for the future,” he concludes.

For more information on SurePure visit their website: